Lehman Brothers collapsed in large part because it invested in bad mortgages: home loans that were taken out by Americans who simply couldn't afford to make their interest payments.

But banks like Lehman and Bear Stearns never actually did business with Joe and Jeannie Public: that was the job of companies like Countrywide, whose salespeople convinced so many Americans that they grab a slice of the American Dream, regardless of their ability to pay for it.

Countrywide executives were generally reluctant to talk to the press, so when one former executive published a book defending the company's excesses, Marketplace's Kai Ryssdal jumped at the chance to talk to him